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Regan lobbies for Palmeiro as All-Star sub for McGwire


CHICAGO -- Orioles manager Phil Regan called American League representatives after yesterday's game and asked them to consider first baseman Rafael Palmeiro as a possible replacement for Mark McGwire in tomorrow night's All-Star Game.

"I think he deserves it," Regan said. "I think he's hit very well, he's been very consistent, played good defense. He's done everything for us."

Palmeiro's average has dropped from .312 to .284 in the past week because he is hitless in 24 at-bats, the worst stretch in his career. But he leads the Orioles in homers, with 15, and in RBIs, with 47.

McGwire, the Oakland first baseman who was picked as a reserve by New York Yankees manager Buck Showalter, was beaned by the Toronto Blue Jays' David Cone Saturday, and has a mild concussion that will prevent him from flying to Texas.

Showalter said the Detroit Tigers' Cecil Fielder and Seattle Mariners' Tino Martinez are candidates to take the spot.

Another factor that could work in Palmeiro's favor is that the All-Star Game is being played at The Ballpark in Arlington, near Palmeiro's home in Texas. He planned to spend the All-Star break there, anyway.

Hoiles too hot for day off

Regan had planned on giving catcher Chris Hoiles a day off yesterday, but Hoiles' hot bat changed his mind. "We've got the All-Star break coming up, anyway," Regan said before the game.

Turned out to be a good move. Hoiles continued to mash the ball, hitting his 10th homer and driving in two runs. He has a six-game hitting streak (10-for-21), with six runs, two doubles, six RBIs and two homers.

Roster ripple

The release of Sid Fernandez yesterday will have a ripple effect on the Orioles' roster, possibly allowing the team to keep Arthur Rhodes on its big-league roster and carry 14 position players.

Three players are expected to be activated from the disabled list later this week: pitchers Ben McDonald and Kevin Brown and third baseman Jeff Manto. Reliever Joe Borowski, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning yesterday, will be returned to the minors, leaving the Orioles with 26 players for 25 spots.

If Rhodes stays with the club, probably in a relief role, these are the players who may be vulnerable for a roster move: reliever Armando Benitez, who could be returned to the minors; reliever Mike Oquist, who is out of options; third baseman Jeff Huson (although Regan said he really has liked the way the left-handed-hitting Huson has played third, and may keep him to spell Manto occasionally); or Leo Gomez, who has no clear-cut role now that Huson is playing ahead of him.

The Orioles would have to trade Gomez, or pay off the balance of his $925,000 contract. But if the Fernandez buyout is any indication, the club wants to prepare its roster for a second-half run at the division title and may consider moving Gomez because he's simply not playing.

Regan expects to meet with general manager Roland Hemond and assistant GM Frank Robinson this week. "We'll talk about all those things then."

Around the horn

Regan isn't counting on Gene Harris or Mark Eichhorn returning this season. Any contribution would be "a bonus," he said. . . . Bret Barberie had three hits yesterday, and his first RBI since May 31. . . . The Orioles have won six straight road games, and nine of 11.

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